We could be seeing some intriguing player movements over the next week or so. ‘Buyout season’ is hitting its peak and the trade deadline is due to arrive on March 26th (Manila time). The list isn’t getting short too.
Just days after one of the major candidates, former Detroit Piston Blake Griffin, found a new home by signing with the stacked Brooklyn Nets, another veteran was added in the pool.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told the media earlier this week that the team and their starting big man, seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, have mutually decided to part ways.
“LaMarcus [Aldridge] is not with the team. He’s healthy in that respect, but we mutually agreed to work on some opportunities elsewhere, so he won’t be with the team moving forward. He’s been a great teammate – there’s no problem there. We just think this is a win-win for [everyone].”
It does make sense for both parties. At 35 years old, Aldridge is in the twilight of his career. He doesn’t fit the youth-filled Spurs anymore, who, despite being promising, is only a middling playoff team at best. He’ll be more impactful with a team that has a real, concrete chance of winning a title championship. We can even argue that his teammate, DeMar DeRozan, is in the same boat, but that’s a different story.
Let’s get into the list. We’ll also include trade packages if turns into a trade instead of a free agent signing:
The Top 3:
The Celtics are set in the forward and guard positions with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker, but they are in dire need of a reliable scoring big man, which might explain their struggles this season. Boston has a trio of bigs in Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson, and Robert Williams, none of which are serious threats on the offense.
With Aldridge, the Celtics have an added scorer, inside presence, and a Center who can stretch the floor. Because he can create scoring opportunities for himself, he can help alleviate pressure off of the team’s top three scorers as well.
Possible trade offers may include a combination of Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams, and second-round pick(s).
The Mavs are trying their best to surround their star, Luka Doncic, with a great supporting cast, and while you can’t exactly knock the front office’s efforts, the teams’ up-and-down campaign is a clear sign that the group needs a reinforcement.
Aldridge will be an interesting third option behind Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. He’ll be an additional pick-and-roll man and his presence can make the latter’s job easier on both ends.
Possible trade offers may include a combination of Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, and a protected first-round pick.
The defending Eastern Conference champions are on the road back after a long stretch of mediocre basketball. They’ve been quite banged up all year but they’re close to regaining their full force, which, as we’ve seen in the bubble, is NBA Finals-worthy.
The Heat are a pesky defensive team that can run the floor and shoot the lights out on offense, and they’re roughly 8-10 guys deep in the rotation. What Aldridge can bring, however, is much-needed help for Bam Adebayo, who’s getting punished in the paint almost every game. He’ll be a good mentor for Adebayo and rookie forward Precious Achiuwa as well.
Possible trade offers may include a combination of Kelly Olynyk, Andre Iguodala, KZ Okpala, Avery Bradley, and a first or second-round pick.
Other trade/buyout destinations:
Some of the other intriguing potential suitors for Aldridge’s services include the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, and LA Clippers. Each has its own interesting storyline, since it’ll either be a Portland homecoming or a shift to either of the league’s top title contenders.
Aldridge is on the final year of his contract, and he is due to make $24 million. In 21 games this season, he’s averaging 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 25.9 minutes of action. All are his lowest since his rookie year but it’s still on-par with his career numbers when converted to Per 36 terms.